The paper 'Major Business Incident' is a great example of a Management Case Study. Excellent communication skills are crucial for high-quality performance management. These are essential competencies required for a good performance from communication work anticipations and planning to acknowledge the efforts of employees. Effective communication necessitates that managers create powerful working links with their stakeholders and access to feedback and communication. Apparently, one of the prevalent challenges managers encounter is communication while communication is an essential aspect of effective leadership. Devoid of effective communication management skills, most organizations fail to attain their goals and objectives.
The focus of this essay is to analyze the VA Hospital scandal of 2014 where scores of patients died as they awaited care at a Phoenix VA Hospital. Drawing on communication management theories, this paper briefly describes the incident and offers an analysis of the manner in which the hospital addressed the issue. The VA Hospital Scandal of 2014The VA Hospital scandal is an incident that had been taking place in Phoenix VA hospital for years but only became public in early 2014. It is a scandal where patients died while awaiting health care.
Veterans needed to wait for 115 days to be seen by a primary care physician. The long waiting times led to the deaths of the patients and the deterioration of their health. The scandal also involved employees who falsified appointment information and concealed proof of delayed medical care (Tompkins 2015, p. 78). The employees manipulated information, withheld correct data from their supervisors. In this view, the timeliness of the health care received by the veterans failed to mirror the values or attain the objectives of the VA Hospital.
According to Wilson (2015, p. 1), the Phoenix VA Hospital scandal led to the death of many veterans who awaited medical care. The veterans died because of the infamous secret wait lists that broke in the news media in 2014.For the scandal to break in the news media, it took a daring whistleblower by the name of Dr. Sam Foote to center the national attention on a ‘ cook-the books’ wait-times’ windfall outrage. The whistleblower maintained that over forty veterans met their deaths while awaiting doctor’ s appointments while over 1, 300 veterans had to be on the waiting list for over six months for a doctor’ s appointment ( Tompkins 2015, p. 78).
Despite the fact that scores of veterans died while waiting to be seen by a doctor, numerous undeserved performance bonuses were rewarded to the hospital’ s employees. The VA through its management lacked accountability and commitment to the provision of health and medical care to its patients. Top officials understood the woes at the VA prior to the scandal, but they failed to communicate these woes.
According to Oppel (2014), the senior Department officials knew of the grieve concerns at the VA hospital long before the scandal broke in the news media. The records on the case of Sharon Helman, the Phoenix hospital director, offered novel details of how the senior officials in the hospital knew about the hospital, long waiting lists, clinic space, lack of medical personnel, and patients backlogs. Following the explosion of the scandal, an employee at the facility, Ms. Bowers indicated that the hospital failed to comply with the directive that needed patients to be put on an authorized electronic waiting list.
Even if the hospital had certified acquiescence with the directive, there lacked no active list for patients requiring primary care. While Ms. Bower submitted a written report that stated that the hospital was out of conformity, she was pressured by fellow officials to state that the hospital complied with the directive. Ms. Bower had laid a lot of concern with the hospital management, but she was put off. She pushed for essential projects such as projects aimed at enhancing scheduling systems, but the projects were delayed or defunded citing a lack of money and resources to facilitate the projects.
The senior officials knew of the issues affecting the Phoenix VA Hospital but remained tight-lipped. The lack of proper communication eventually led to the scandal. AnalysisThe VA Hospital scandal demonstrates a failure of scores of things. The preventable deaths of veterans waiting for medical care, long waiting times and failure to give medical care to veterans who requested the care, reflect multiple failures. While the government failed on its side, the great failure lies on the side of the hospital management in the sense that there lacked proper communication management skills amid the hospital officials.
After the explosion of the scandal, it was evident that senior officials in the hospital were well aware of the issues facing the hospitals. Officials such as Ms. Bower who dared to communicate the failures were pressured by the senior officials to remain silent an aspect that instigates her early retirement. The scandal presents communication mismanagement or failure between the hospital and its stakeholders. More so, the scandal presents a major disconnect amid the performances of the hospital systems and the managers.
The chronic sluggishness in health care provision, the preventable deaths, and general inefficiency is a clear demonstration of a broken system. While the veterans continued to suffer from a lack of proper care in the VA facility, the management failed to communicate honestly regarding the problems facing the facility and implement corrective measures. Instead of accepting that there was a problem with the clinic space, the administrators at the facility falsified information to offer the impression that the patients received medical care soonest possible.
The hospital officials utilized a secret list to give the impression that they were attaining the objectives of the facility while patients continued to die on their watch. The hospital officials failed to communicate the long waiting times to the government. The officials remained silent because they did not want to put at risk the pay bonuses that the facility got for retaining short wait times. As a result, the official falsified the data and shortened the time it took for patients to see a doctor. Galata, Pirvulescu, and Criotoru (2015, p. 78) assert that within a firm, management communication problems are the cause of disorders and evils of the firm.
In the domain of communication, the manager is placed in a situation where he/she assesses events and people and establishes effective and rapid solutions. On the contrary, this was not the case with the leadership at the Phoenix VA Hospital facility because they lacked effective communication and managerial skills. Apparently, the leaders failed to listen to issues raised by staff. An effective manager must hold communication skills and a range of skills that facilitates problem-solving.
Employees desire to feel informed, involved, and prepared to take part in decision making. However, the process of decision-making cannot be fruitful without effective communication. The greater call for coordination and integration calls for a higher need for the management communication system. Only efficient and effective communication facilitates the successful performance of managerial roles that include planning, coordination, and control of resources. Effective communication facilitates consultation, motivation, and involvement of employees in attaining organizational objectives. Constant communication process allows managers and their subordinates to converse, discover themselves, agree or disagree, accept or reject issues affecting them and their organisations. Managerial communication entails interpersonal roles and informational roles that facilitate the development and creation of information networks.
The mutual interaction between managers and subordinates deepens depending on feedback. Effective communication skills allow managers to investigate concerns, communicate the findings, and make feasible decisions. This was not the case with the head of Phoenix VA Hospital. The senior managers lacked communication skills that would have saved the facility from the scandal.
According to Bell and Smith (2010, p. 5), effective communication necessitates persistence, practice and preparation, and the ability to communicate effectively results from experience. Both written and oral communication skills are essential for business success. The communication source that would have saved the facility from shame and embarrassment was the company’ s senior officials who were aware of the problems facing them yet they chose to remain silent. The officials should have shared the information with the stakeholders and the government. The message was so clear to be understood by the stakeholders and the government.
Failure to identify and communicate the issues facing the facility led one of the hospital officials to reveal the information via news media, the receiver being the entire public. The public was outraged by the information received from the news media, and their reaction or feedback was negative. Addressing the IssueAccording to Mazzei and Ravazzani (2015, p. 320), firms prepare themselves for negative effects from crisis through careful planning. Classic theories of communication acknowledge that all communication including the conflict process entails a message, a sender, and a receiver.
Drawing from the VA Hospital scandal, the communication issues that led to scandal include failure to listen, diversity of the people in management, ego and attitude, hierarchy or authority problems and more importantly poor communication management. Following the scandal, the U. S. government launched an investigation into the scandal. Jeff Miller, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman also sent a message to the Phoenix VA requiring the facility to hand over records and answer questions concerning the secret list. The receiver of the information, Phoenix VA, from the information source, Jeff Miller, failed to provide their feedback by failing to answer questions relating to a secret list or provide any data on the accusations.
The Phoenix VA Director, Ms. Helman had provided a directive to her staff to preserve all paper and electronic evidence. This amounted to a communication disconnect between the information source and the receiver. Shinseki in response to the allegation provided a public statement that showed his commitment to trying to unearth further the scandal while Ms. Helman provided a written statement stating that she respected the decisions made by Shinseki to review the facility.
A great deal of information was exchanged between the investigators and VA officials. The information revealed communication mismanagement amid the senior management and staff whose concerns regarding issues affecting the facility were ignored. The staff at the hospital who attempted to report the problems facing the facility were fired. In efforts of addressing the scandal, several administrators at Phoenix VA Hospital were dismissed. The director of Phoenix VA Hospital was also fired and replaced by an individual with effective managerial skills. The VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki, also resigned and replaced by McDonald Robert, a person with effective management skills (Vultaggio 2014).
The new VA Secretary planned to fire people who do not meet the standards of integrity and open communication. The replacement and dismissal of key officials demonstrate that leadership inadequacy was the major cause of the scandal. Drawing from the VA scandal, it is evident that firms establish transparency and trust where issues can be communicated and addressed effectively. Efficient communication systems that support vertical and horizontal should be enhanced. Leaders must ask questions, listen to their staff, and take corrective measures.
Leaders should invest time to guarantee effective communication management and prompt an atmosphere of transparency and trust. Feedback loops should be well established, and accurate information provided from genuine sources. Leaders should be prepared to receive any form of news or information, good, ugly, or bad, and act on it with care. More importantly, it is important that leaders go beyond normal channels of communication and take proactive e measures to collect information from diverse communication channels. Supplementing formal communication channels with different informal channels is essential as it helps in receiving concerns from staff and patients.
Leaders should focus more on listening that communicating to staff because it is only through listening that they would understand the issues affecting their firms. Appropriate feedback channels direct, internal, eternal, and indirect should be established. Indirect feedback does not directly come from the receive or source (Bell & Smith 2010, p. 300). ConclusionThe real concern in organizational communication is how much managers communicate and if they communicate and manage communication effectively. Effective communication is essential in the attainment of organizational goals.
The Phoenix VA Hospital scandal is a clear demonstration of communication mismanagement and the effects of communication failures in a firm. Several patients lost their lives because of leadership inadequacies. Through communication, a manager motivates, controls guides, resolves problems, and transmits instructions that facilitate the attainment of set goals. In a society where people talk increasingly more and comprehend each other less, it is apparent that all actions structured by persons hold their source in communication. All human links demonstrate communication interactions. People subsist for each other and interact with each other.
For a successful manager, communication is a state of mind and instrument that spends a lot of time talking, listening, reading, and writing. In the case of the VA Phoenix Hospital scandal, the management seemed to lack all the aspects of effective communication management. A successful manager with effective managerial skills climbs on the hierarchical stages of his/her professions. The resignation and dismissal of senior officials at VA Hospital is a clear indication of managers with inept communication management skills.
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